Note: I started writing this post on Friday. I'm just now getting around to finishing it. A lot of it is written assuming that people were just getting to the point where they were ready to enter the Molten Front. Since then, Blizz has hotfixed the rate at which this can occur (from three days to one). Also, a lot more people have gone through those three/one day(s) and seen this already. So this is probably no longer "OMG, Amazing!" news. But I still want to share it because I'm still excited about it.
Once you're gotten your first 20 Marks of the World Tree and seen Hamuul Runetotem turned into hamburger, you unlock a daily quest out at the Sanctuary of Malorne called The Protectors of Hyjal. (Which doesn't actually show up until the next day.)
This is, far and away, one of the most amazing quests I've ever seen. Why? Blizzard took a small, subtle step that shows just how far-reaching the consequences of Ragnaros' invasion really are.
Once you pick up the quest and fly out to Sethria's Roost, you're joined by a group of four NPC allies. Sometimes all four will be generic Hyjal Protectors. But sometimes the fourth will be a named NPC that you've run across during your time in Azeroth. Usually ones associated with some of the best questlines from certain areas.
Saniel ended up with Tony Two-Tusk the first time around, who's the center of a pair of short (but fun) quest lines out in Thousand Needles. First to kill him, then to bring him back to life.
Siaaryn also ended up there on the same night and he got John J. Keeshan in his party. If you've quested out the Burning Steppes as Alliance since the Cataclysm, you're well acquainted with Mr. Keeshan. Dude's hardcore. I'd want him on my side any day of the week.
If you go to quest page on Wowhead that I've linked above, you can see all the possible NPCs that could show up. There's some crazy names on that list. Mankirk, Johnny Awesome, Budd, Thassarian, Hemet Nesingwary.
From characters you meet in starting zones (Gwen Amistad) all the way up to one of the most powerful dragons on Azeroth (Chromie), to characters who are no longer really in the game (Linken), every name on that list brings back memories some of the best quest chains in WoW.
Do you remember turning your weekly Raid quests to Archmage Lan'dalock?
Do you remember rescuing Archmage Vargoth from the tower in Kirin'var Village in Netherstorm?
Do you remember rescuing The Leaper from the Lich King's grasp?
Mog'dorg the Wizened from Ogri'la?
A lot of the characters are new to the game in Cataclysm, even though you meet them in 1-60 zones.
Lunk, the pacifist Ogre in the Searing Gorge.
Maximillian of Northshire, the incompetent and condescending Knight in Un'goro.
Tony Two-Tusk and John J. Keeshan, who I've already mentioned.
I could keep going. But I won't.
Like I said, it's subtle and it's simple. You don't really interact with these characters. And the Protectors quest itself doesn't take long at all. A few minutes, really, including travel time. They just show up, occasionally say or emote something, and then disappear again with a quick farewell.
But the point is that they're no longer forgotten. They're not relegated to their brief, shining moments and then left there for all eternity anymore. They're now a part of something bigger. Their story continues. This is their world, too. And they're going to help fight for it in any way they can.
The Mythic Roadblock
4 weeks ago